We were so happy to have the opportunity to interview Michael. He recently proposed to his fiance Leah with a custom ring created by Forever Artisans (previously the Nexus Design Studio). In the interview we discussed how they met, how he proposed and the ring they purchased. We wanted to share their heart-warming story with everyone. So without further delay, meet Michael and Leah (yes, that's a picture of them).

Michael and Leah

How did you meet?

Leah and I met while attending Ball State University. She walked into class and I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. During that class we ended up getting paired together for the final project in the class. We bonded instantly and became great friends. It wasn’t till a few years later that we actually went out on our first date. We played a round of mini-golf and as Leah will tell you we became super competitive after the first few holes. At the end when we tallied up our scores it ended up being a perfect tie!

Since then we have had many adventures; some of our highlights include Leah supporting my military career. Leah has become a top notch nurse that practices sports medicine while working towards her Nurse Anesthetist degree. Our biggest adventure though has to be our move from the Midwest to D.C. We couldn’t have come out here alone, and together we have supported and pushed each other to new heights as we continue to grow and share our love for each other.

How long have you been together?

Since September of 2009.

Would you please tell us your proposal story?

I was ready to propose to Leah after I graduated from Army Basic Training but we weren’t there yet, and I was still new to this whole engagement ring business. That summer while pouring over endless sights about engagement rings I stumbled on to Diamond Nexus and their Design Your Dream Ring contest. There were only a few days left and I began my first journey to design what I thought would be Leah’s engagement ring. For the better, I didn’t win the contest but I was left with a great feeling about DN. Plus I learned so much about the DN process I ended up telling Leah about it. She was thrilled with the idea of lab grown diamond and the thought that her diamonds could be conflict free. After looking though a DN book of rings and circling all the ones she liked, she said that she wanted a DN ring.

Once I had the final ring in my hand a year or so later I found out that our wedding photographer was going to be in D.C. visiting with friends and family. The photographer agreed to take pictures of Leah and I but I told both the photographer and Leah it was just going to be “pre-engagement” pictures. I also told Leah that we could just Photoshop her ring on her finger later and no one would know. That didn’t go over too well.

After contacting and researching a ton of places around D.C. I found the grounds of Gunston Hall, George Mason’s home. On an early Saturday morning we got up before the sun rose, picked up our photographer and drove to Gunston Hall. As the sun was rising, we began to take pictures in our best out fits. Leah would later tell me that she checked my pockets and when she didn’t find anything she ended up giving up hope that that morning would be the big morning and she got into the swing of pictures. Little did she know that I had the ring box stashed away in my boot!

As we took our final pictures with our nice clothing, I told Leah to wait a minute. I said that something was wrong with the boot I was wearing. As I messed with the zipper to pull out the box she ended up turning around and I got on one knee as she turned back to face me. It was then, as the morning sun shined on us, that I asked Leah if she would marry me. Of course she said yes!

How was your overall experience with the Nexus Design Studio?

NDS has been fantastic! From day one they worked hard to bring my creative thoughts to life with their magical skills! I can’t say enough of how great everyone is and the friendly, yet professional experience. They worked with me to bring all my imaginative ideas to life through phone conversations and countless messages on the design boards.

The team at NDS was so amazing that Leah and I wanted to return back to them to design a matching men’s wedding band to Leah’s engagement ring. We also worked with the NDS to design Leah’s wedding band to match the golden roses on her engagement ring so that her diamonds would look like they are sitting in a bed of roses. In the future we plan on getting the other side of her ring surrounded by roses as well when we renew our vows.

Michael's custom wedding band

Where did the inspiration for this design come from?

Leah and I have always joked and told everyone that we are like Beauty and the Beast. She loves to read books and can finish a few hundred pages a night if she really gets into it! She also has worked as an Official Disney Princess in Indiana as Belle, and the kids always think she is a real life princess! Of course much of the design came from listening to what Leah told me she wanted in her dream ring over the course of a few years (she knows the years and months that we shopped for rings before I proposed to her down to the day). The most important things to her were an oval stone shape, a halo of some kind, and lots of detailed work. While the halo didn’t make it into the final design it will grow with the golden roses as our love grows

Much of the design came from me staying up late after Leah was asleep and sketching detailed designs that I wanted to have meaning. Everything on her ring has a meaning which has been copied over to the wedding bands. On the engagement ring there are two golden roses that symbolize her and I, from them two stems of our lives grow and wrap around each other as our lives have and will continually do so. The dots are for all our many adventures and life experiences we share with each other. Under the diamonds are tiny rainbow archways that let the light into her stones so they can match her beauty. The rainbow archways are also there to remind her of family that have passed before us and how they will always work to brighten up her day just by looking at her ring.

Lastly we have her stones, which I’ll be honest; to me Leah is the most beautiful woman I have ever met and will ever meet! We have always told each other that we are only getting married once and divorce would never be an option. With that in mind I wanted to go big! As in go big or go home! As I find Leah to be the best out of all the fish in the sea I wanted her ring to be uniquely hers because I had caught the best! Some of the first words out of her mouth after she said yes and we stopped tearing up so much was “It’s so big!”

Did we meet all of your expectations from design image to finished design?

NDS went far above any and all my expectations! So far in fact that any jewelry that I get for Leah will be from DN. It’s the best out there and there is no better. In an age where we are trying to be our own couple DN helps me make Leah feel special every day because nowhere else in the world is there a ring like hers and there never will be again. We are a one of a kind couple and now we have the rings to prove it!